Last week, Global Exchange was honored to help coordinate, along with a coalition of organizations and people, a visit to the San Francisco Bay Area by two important representatives from Cuba, Ms. Kenia Serrano and Ms. Leima Martinez.
Ms. Serrano is a high-ranking member of the Cuban parliament and President of ICAP (The Cuban Institute for Friendship with the People). Ms. Martinez is head of the North American Division of ICAP. Their week-long stop in the Bay Area came on the heels of a week on the East Coast where they spent time in both Washington DC and New York. Their visit included a number of important presentations, events and interviews related to changing (and unchanging) US-Cuba relations.
Global Exchange has long been a voice against the harmful and negative US policies towards Cuba. While we recognize the importance and historical significance of the restoration of diplomatic relations between Washington DC and Havana, we agree with Ms. Serrano’s and Ms. Martinez’ use of the term “on the road towards” normalization. That is, though diplomatic relations may have been normalized, we cannot call relations as a whole “normal” – not when the US economic blockade remains firmly in place, travel restrictions still hamper free travel, Guantanamo continues to be illegally occupied by the US military, and US funded regime-change programs continue unabated. There has been significant progress in the past year, but there still remains much to be done.
That being said, Kenia and Leima’s visit was an important one, further strengthening ties of solidarity between the people of the US and Cuba, while giving voice to the Cuban perspective on the process of normalization and creating a substantive dialogue surrounding the additional steps that need to be made between our two governments to ensure that our bilateral relations are, indeed, bilateral and normal.